Helpful Orthodontic Appliance Repair Tips

Orthodontic emergencies are unusual, but we want you to feel comfortable and assured that all is under control.

How to Handle Common Appliance Repairs & Issues

Orthodontic emergencies are unusual and most orthodontic repairs can wait to be handled at your next regularly scheduled appointment. A broken bracket or ligature may be annoying but rarely painful; these types of repairs can be made at a routine visit. On the other hand, a displaced wire or other traumatic incidents may require immediate attention.

You can call the office to receive instructions on how to care for your emergency and how to contact a responsible assistant. Here at RTO, we always have a doctor or assistant “on-call” to help you with these problems, most of which can be alleviated at home. While this is certainly your first line of action, never hesitate to give us a call! We want you to feel comfortable and assured that all is under control.

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so taking care of your braces, clear aligners, and/or retainer is important. Some common issues with your orthodontic appliances can be taken care of at home until you can come in and have the appliance repaired.

For example, a few common issues with braces that can be fixed at home are loose bands or brackets, broken or poking archwires, and dislodged wires.

Watch the videos below of Dr. Steve, Jr. explaining the common minor problems that may occur with your braces during orthodontic treatment and the simple steps to alleviate them.

Wire Dislodged From Molar Brace
Retainer & Aligner Repair
Poking Wire & Wax
Poking Ligature Wire
Loose or Broken Bracket
Long Wire Poking in the Cheek

Do-It-Yourself Braces Repair

During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you likely will feel some pain, soreness, or discomfort.

You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces.

You may find it useful to look at the pictures below of common minor problems that may occur with your braces and simple steps to alleviate them.

Loose Brackets or Bands

Cutting a loose wire with a nail clipper or scissors (that have been sterilized in alcohol) may make you more comfortable. Be careful of the free end of the wire after it has been snipped.

Loose Bracket or Bands

Wire Irritation

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab, Q-tip, or pencil eraser.

If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax.

If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

Wire Irritation

Lost Separators

Most patients lose a separator during their treatments. Do not worry about losing a separator; it will not need to be replaced.

Lost Separators
Acton Braces

When to Schedule Braces Repairs

Our office has time for emergency adjustments during normal clinic hours each day.

We will schedule your appointment as soon as possible.

Emergencies generally fall into two categories:

Direct Injuries to the Mouth & Teeth

Following a direct injury to your mouth or teeth, you should see your general dentist as soon as possible.

An X-ray of the involved tooth may be needed to determine the extent of the injury.

Contact your dentist first if a tooth has been lost, severely displaced, or fractured.

Our RTO office may not have the necessary materials to treat your injuries.

Emergencies Related to Orthodontic Appliances

Broken or disturbed appliances may occur during your orthodontic care.

Loose bands, broken or poking wires, and dislodged or displaced orthodontic appliances should be reported to our office during regular office hours.

We will evaluate the urgency of the problem and schedule an appointment for you.

In the interim, follow these temporary measures:

  • An irritating tie wire can be covered with wax or tucked under the archwire using a blunt object such as a pencil eraser or a Q-tip.
  • A loose band or bracket can usually be left in place until your office appointment.
  • A broken archwire or one that is irritating the gum or cheek tissue requires replacement or adjustment.
  • A bent headgear facebow or ill-fitting removable appliance should not be worn until it is properly adjusted during your office visit.

Get Immediate Help

For an after-hours immediate orthodontic emergency, please call one of our emergency phone lines at the number listed below, and one of our team members will be in touch.

Emergency Phone Numbers